Masjid-i-Jahan NumaThe Masjid-i-Jahan Numa, commonly known as Jama
Masjid of Delhi is the principal mosque of Old Delhi in India.
Commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and completed in the
year 1656 AD, it is one of the largest and best known mosques in
India. It was built after demolition of a very ancient Hindu temple
known as Jamna Devi temple dedicated to the Yamuna river. (There are
also Jama Masjids in many other cities with a history of Islamic rule,
or large Muslim populations.)
Masjid-i-Jahan Numa means "the mosque commanding a view of the world",
and the name Jama Masjid is a reference to the weekly congregation
observed on Friday (the yaum al-jum`a) at the mosque. The courtyard of
the mosque can hold up to twenty-five thousand worshippers. The mosque
also houses several relics in a closet in the north gate, including a
copy of the Qur'an written on deer skin incurred on the construction
in those times was ten lakh rupees. (A lakh is one hundred thousand;
ten lakh therefore equals one million).
Shah Jahan built several important mosques in Delhi, Agra, Ajmer and
Lahore. The Jama Masjid's floorplan is very similar to the Moti Masjid
at Agra, but the Jama Masjid is the bigger and more imposing of the
two. Its majesty is further enhanced because of the high ground that
he selected for building this mosque.
Jama Masjid, northeast entrance The courtyard of the mosque can be
reached from the east, north and south by three flights of steps, all
built of red sandstone. The northern gate of the mosque has 39 steps.
The southern side of the mosque has 33 steps. The eastern gate of the
mosque was the royal entrance and it has 35 steps. These steps used to
house food stalls, shops and street entertainers. In the evening, the
eastern side of the mosque used to be converted into a bazaar for
poultry and birds in general. Prior to the 1857 War of Indian
Independence, there was a madrassah near the southern side of the
mosque, which was pulled down after the mutiny.
The mosque faces west. Its three sides are covered with open arched
colonnades, each having a lofty tower-like gateway in the centre. The
mosque is about 261 feet (80 m) long and 90 feet (27 m) wide, and its
roof is covered with three domes with alternate stripes of black and
white marble, with its topmost parts covered with gold. Two lofty
minarets, 130 feet (40 m) high, and containing 130 steps,
longitudinally striped with white marble and red sandstone, flank the
domes on either side. The minarets are divided by three projecting
galleries and are surmounted by open twelve-sided domed pavilions. On
the back of the mosque, there are four small minarets crowned like
those in the front.